Matthew Bell: The IoS Diary

Prepared to sort things out over a White House beer


Griff Rhys Jones is in hot water with the fishing community after encouraging us all to get in our canoes to disturb as many fishermen as possible.

His incendiary comments have proved a brilliant way of promoting his new series Rivers with Griff Rhys Jones, starting on BBC1 tonight. But I can reveal that he should not have been making the programme at all. The concept for the show, which has him exploring Britain's forgotten rivers by boat, was dreamed up by angler and writer Charles Rangeley-Wilson. Three years ago his hit BBC show called The Accidental Angler saw him travel the world in pursuit of weird and wonderful fish. I'm told he pitched his idea to the BBC but wasn't considered famous enough by celebrity-obsessed producers – and Rhys Jones was drafted in. "The irony is that Charles is a keen fisherman, but the BBC brought in someone who is totally anti- them," whispers my mole with the maggot tin.


For those who see modern art as one of the greatest cons of all time, Charles Saatchi is the man leading the way. But now I hear he is doffing his cap at the Old Masters, by paying for a group of young artists to study the works of the great English painters. A number of country house owners have been approached by Saatchi stooges to see if they would be willing to allow his disciples access to their collections, which they would study and use as inspiration for their own work. The chatelaine would be paid £4,000 a day for their hospitality, a sum not to be sniffed at for anyone running a big house. The idea is part of a project Saatchi is running in conjunction with the BBC, called Best of British, in which he sets out X Factor-like to discover the next generation of British artists. The show is to be broadcast in the autumn.


One of the highlights of the week for media junkies was the grilling of former News of the World editor Andy Coulson in front of the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee, over how much he knew about the illegal activities of the reporters under his watch. Among those glued to the drama was Peter Burden, the author of an unauthorised book about the paper, Fake Sheikhs & Royal Trappings. Burden has since written up his take on proceedings on his blog, complaining about what he claims to be a lack of honesty in the answers offered by the News of the Screws execs. Indeed, his article "A Case for Waterboarding?" uses language far too fruity to repeat here, as it is clearly libellous. How will the Screws respond? Will it be suing? If it doesn't, do we take it he is right? Over to a News International spokesman: "We are monitoring all coverage, including him and his little blog."


In a case of art imitating life imitating art, the Mayor of Baltimore Sheila Dixon is due to stand trial in September in a story that could come straight out of The Wire. In January she was charged with 12 counts of theft, perjury, fraudulent misappropriation and misconduct, stemming from gifts she had accepted from her former boyfriend, the property developer, Ronald H Lipscomb. But in the course of the past six months, the charges have been dropped one by one, and she is now only accused of theft. David Simon, a former Baltimore journalist, says he was inspired to write The Wire by his experience of covering the city's mean streets and complicated politics. In Series 4, Mayor Clarence Royce gets away with his dodgy dealings with property dealers, but eventually loses the election. Will life imitate art for Dixon?


Following my story last week questioning the merits of sending BBC sports editor Mihir Bose to Madrid and Newsnight economics editor Stephanie Flanders to Munich on two apparently pointless stories, it seems there is no end to the Beeb's extravagance when it comes to going abroad. Wednesday's Newsnight had a 12-minute report – that's a quarter of the whole show – on, er, the rise of the Pirate Party in Sweden.

Correspondent Matt Prodger was clearly having a whale of time, taking boats out on to the sun-soaked Swedish archipelago, hanging out with Swedish youths at a music festival, even interviewing the Swedish Prime Minister. Quite what the point of it all was is hard to tell, but at least it was easy on the eye.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Cover Supervisor

£75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Piper Ryan Randall leads a pro-Scottish independence rally in the suburbs of Edinburgh  

i Editor's Letter: Britain survives, but change is afoot

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Some believe that David Cameron is to blame for allowing Alex Salmond a referendum  

Scottish referendum: So how about the English now being given a chance to split from England?

Mark Steel
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam